As Nick blogged about earlier today, Air Canada and Aeroplan have modified their elite qualification requirements. Starting next year, travelers crediting to Aeroplan need to fly at least 10,000 miles or five segments on Air Canada metal in order to qualify for elite status–of any level.
AC hasn’t addressed why it made these changes, but I think Nick’s got the right idea when he suggests that it just didn’t pay off under the old policy. In addition to the Canadian taxes issue, which I’ll leave to those more qualified to comment, if hundreds or even thousands of people play the frequent flyer game I do to gain lounge access, it is perfectly understandable why AC would want to cut off this spigot of revenue loss.
While I don’t credit flights to Air Canada, I do credit 38K miles each year to British Midland and have done so the last three years. I’ve never set foot on a bmi aircraft and I am positive that BD’s Diamond Club managers hate flyers like me. When I fly, I always arrive at the airport early enough to use a Star Alliance lounge. I also schedule in as many connections as possible (to bolster my mileage account and increase my chances for bumps and other travel hiccups) and access a lounge or lounges in my connecting cities as well.
Although we don’t know how much BD has to pay for my lounge access, it’s around $20 each time I enter a non-BD Star Alliance lounge. Since I fly roughly twice a week (one r/t), we’re talking about at least $80 a week I cost BD in lounge access, which adds up to more than $4,000 each year. It frankly surprises me that more airlines don’t levy restrictions similar to Air Canada’s.
I think AC’s strikes the right balance: you can still credit all your miles to Aeroplan, one of the most generous frequent flyer programs in Star Alliance, but you can’t claim all the benefits of the airline without ever setting foot on it. While I don’t want to see other airlines match AC’s policy, I can’t fault AC for the new guideline.